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Rumsfeld Pledges Not to Mislead Media

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the Pentagon will not mislead the news media to protect sensitive operations in the Bush administration's offensive against global terrorism.

Mr. Rumsfeld says there are no plans for a special media campaign aimed at putting out disinformation to increase the prospects of success for military operations.

The defense secretary tells reporters he and his top aides have no intention of telling lies to the news media. He says best policy is simply to not discuss sensitive information about intelligence matters or force movements.

"The policy is that we will not say a word about anything that will compromise [intelligence] sources or methods," said Mr. Rumsfeld. "We will not say a word that will in any way endanger anyone's life by discussing operations and anyone that does talk to any of you about that is breaking federal criminal law and should be in jail. And we won't do it. Responsible people won't do it. People who know anything won't do it. But that is a very different thing from coming out and actively telling a lie. That is not going to happen by this individual or by people who are representing me at this podium."

Mr. Rumsfeld says he cannot imagine a situation where officials would, in his words, be "so unskillful" that they would have to lie to save lives. He says he has never done it and has no intention of starting now.

Pentagon officials have been unusually silent in the past two weeks, refusing to give out details of the force build-up under way in the Gulf region and elsewhere.

However they have made clear the prime target remains terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden, who is believed to be in hiding in Afghanistan.